II-122875 | Herbert Molson and his sister Naomi Molson as "Vikings," costumed for Chateau de Ramezay Ball, Montreal, QC, 1898

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Herbert Molson and his sister Naomi Molson as "Vikings," costumed for Chateau de Ramezay Ball, Montreal, QC, 1898
Wm. Notman & Son
1898, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
25 x 20 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  couple (556) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

The aim of the Historical Fancy Dress Ball was to create "in the citizens of Montreal a personal interest in their valuable legacy from the past, the Chateau de Ramezay, and with a desire to revive for one night the chateau's traditions . . ." All those attending the Historical Fancy Dress ball had to represent a character from Canadian history. Guests were divided into seven historical sets, each of which was to perform an historical dance. As at the balls organized by Lady Aberdeen, the activity was intended to transcend mere amusement and actually be educational for both participants and those reading reports in the papers.

While most of the characters chosen were from the 17th and 18th centuries, there were a few notable exceptions. Leading off the pageant of Canadian historical characters were a group of eight "Norsemen." Herbert and Naomi Molson portrayed "Thyrker" and "Freydis." The last set was the English governors since the British conquest.

Cynthia Cooper, Magnificent Entertainments: Fancy Dress Balls of Canada's Governors General, 1876-1898 (Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane Editions & Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1997), p. 137.

  • What

    Herbert Molson was in a rented costume that had been worn two years earlier by a member of a similar group of Vikings at the historical ball held by Lady Aberdeen in Ottawa.

  • Where

    This costume had been worn previously at Lady Aberdeen's Historical Fancy Dress Ball held in the Senate Chamber in Ottawa.

  • When

    In 1898 Herbert Molson was 23 years of age.

  • Who

    This brother and sister were from one of Montreal's oldest and wealthiest families. Herbert would become president of Molson's Breweries following the death of his father.